Vought XF5U (Flying Flapjack) Experimental Fighter Aircraft
Of the two XF5U airframes built by Vought for the US Navy, only one was ever completed - ending her days as a museum showpiece.
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The promising nature of the Vought V-173 technology demonstrator produced a US Navy fighter contract for an expanded prototype form on June 30th, 1942. Engineer Charles Zimmerman had developed his wing-less "pancake" concept into the 1930s and was able to produce several scale models including the small V-162 test vehicle upon joining the Vought ranks as a consultant. From this came the V-173 which proved some of the concept sound, the design incorporating a circular fuselage with two leading-edge propeller engines and a centralized single-seat cockpit. Of course the military-grade version would require considerable modification and this made the follow-up XF5U something of a whole new beast.
The basic concept remained the same though structural dimensions were increased to accommodate more powerful engines, a new cockpit and fuselage as well as consideration for armament (this was to be a Navy fighter after all). The original 80-horsepower engines gave way to 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7 "Twin Wasp" radial piston engines of 1,350 horsepower each (driving four-bladed propellers). Dimensions included a length of 28 feet, 7 inches, a width of 32 feet, 6 inches and a height of 14 feet, 9 inches. Comparatively, the V-173 showcased a length of 26 feet, 8 inches, a width of 23 feet, 4 inches and an equal height. Loaded weights of both designs were notable, the V-173 topping the scales at 2,260lbs with the revised XF5U weighing 16,720lbs.The V-173 was also constructed of wood with fabric covering and sported a fixed undercarriage; the XF5U would be completed with a metal structure and metal skin as well as a retractable undercarriage. One of the more notable additions to the XF5U model was its inclusion of two circular intakes at the leading edges of the fuselage for aspirating the radial piston engines buried within the fuselage. As with the V-173, the XF5U relied on a network of shafts to drive its unorthodox engine installation.